Breeders' Cup International Scouting Report: Audarya

December 31st, 2020

Filly & Mare Turf

A rampant improver when crowning last season with a 17-1 upset in the Filly & Mare Turf, Audarya has remained at a lofty level despite a winless 2021. Yet only the great Ouija Board has won this race twice (2004 and 2006), and no defending champion has won back-to-back.

By the Gone West-line sire Wootton Bassett, who made such a splash at stud in France that Coolmore snapped him up, Audarya descends from the family of globetrotter Jim and Tonic as well as 2008 Beverly D. (G1) heroine Mauralakana. Neither hit the board in their respective Breeders’ Cup tries, Jim and Tonic in the 1999 Mile and Mauralakana in the Filly & Mare Turf in 2006 and 2008.

Audarya made the transition from novices and handicaps to listed stakes as a sophomore in 2019, finishing a terrific if unlucky second in her stakes debut in the Prix Coronation. She took a couple of starts to resume her progress at four, but the James Fanshawe trainee improved in leaps and bounds in the summer of 2020. After beating males under 140 pounds in a handicap on the Newcastle Tapeta, Audarya sprang a 48-1 shock in the Prix Jean Romanet (G1). She backed it up with an even stronger effort in defeat, a forwardly-placed third to Tarnawa (Turf) in the Prix de l’Opera (G1) on Arc Day.

Both of those efforts came at about 1 1/4 miles on soft or heavy going, so her ability to replicate it going 1 3/16 miles on better ground at Keeneland posed a real question. Hence I was more circumspect about her chances in last year’s Filly & Mare Turf scouting report.

Audarya answered that question, under a perfectly-judged ride by Pierre-Charles Boudot. Granted, she got an assist from a more contentious pace than I’d expected. That turned it into a stronger stamina test, exposing a vulnerability of hot favorite Rushing Fall. Audarya worked out an ideal trip by saving ground just of f the pace, tipping out, and outstaying Rushing Fall late in a course-record 1:52.72.

Given how Audarya had moved forward with racing, she figured to need her first start back this term. Her comeback in the June 16 Prince of Wales’s (G1) at Royal Ascot looked like a festive way to kick off her 2021 campaign. Audarya accordingly went off at 10-1 against Love, who had a history of firing fresh, and a quartet of classy males. Yet she exceeded expectations by forcing Love to pull out all the stops. A tad overeager early in midpack, Audarya cruised up to challenge front-running Love swinging into the stretch, and indeed was traveling better than the favorite. But Love found extra, and Audarya crossed the wire an honorable second, with the old stager Desert Encounter back in fifth.

Audarya was the co-favorite at 9-4 in the July 29 Nassau (G1) at Glorious Goodwood, only to throw in a clunker. Last early, she made a brief attempt to lift in the stretch before weakening and beating just one home, the tailed-off Empress Josephine. Fanshawe was mystified by her worst race in a year.

Whatever the reason for her Nassau flop, Audarya was more herself in her Jean Romanet title defense at Deauville. She was perched at about the midpoint of the formation, altered course for room, and surged to the front. Then Grand Glory ranged up to snatch the victory on the line. Although she was a 23-1 shot, Grand Glory had mixed it up versus males, capturing the Grand Prix de Vichy (G3) in her prior start and earlier placing to top-class Skalleti in the Prix Exbury (G3).

Audarya followed her itinerary from 2020 by proceeding to the Opera, and again found a heavy course in Paris. But unlike last fall, when she tracked a slow pace, the early tempo was much more demanding in the conditions. Although Audarya was still on cruise control entering the final furlong, she didn’t have enough left as the closers swooped. Grand Glory was the first to nab her in a reprise of the Romanet, but sophomores Rougir and Eudaimonia were motoring from even farther back. Rougir’s muzzle beat Grand Glory’s to the wire, and Eudaimonia collared Audarya for third. In the circumstances, Audarya did well to hold fourth when the others in proximity to the pace folded. She was the only forward runner in the top six.

Since Audarya’s marquee efforts in Europe have come in the vicinity of 1 1/4 miles, a 1 3/8-mile Filly & Mare Turf on a track like Del Mar should be within her compass. The trip suits her better than shortening up to 1 1/8 miles, as in the previous running here in 2017. But given the list of past winners who couldn’t repeat, the depth of this field, and the charmed run she had at Keeneland, a minor award strikes me as a more plausible result.

A handicapper and borderline listed performer until just a couple of months ago, Audarya has redefined herself in her past two starts for James Fanshawe.

Bred in France by retired trainer Francois Doumen’s Haras d’Ecouves, Audarya is by successful young sire Wootton Bassett, who was recently snapped up by Coolmore and whisked off to Ireland. Her dam, the Green Tune mare Green Bananas, descends from a full sister to Doumen’s globetrotter extraordinaire Jim and Tonic. This is also the family of 2008 Beverly D. (G1) heroine Mauralakana, twice unplaced in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf.

Audarya was sold for €125,000 as an Arqana October yearling and exported to Great Britain, where she didn’t debut until November of her juvenile year in 2018. But in a harbinger, she nearly sprang a 50-1 shock in her unveiling on Kempton’s Polytrack. Audarya reappeared in May 2019 to place a distant second in a Nottingham maiden to well- regarded Twist ‘N’ Shake, subsequently a listed winner and fourth in Royal Ascot’s Coronation (G1).

Audarya’s sophomore campaign was fairly low-key. Ultimately winning twice from six starts, in a 1 1/4-mile Redcar novice and a Goodwood handicap over a mile, she returned to France to try listed company for the first time in the Prix Coronation at Saint-Cloud. Audarya was unlucky to be buried on the inside and unable to penetrate the wall of horses until the winning Alzire was long gone, but rattled home late for an encouraging second.

Opening 2020 in the Snowdrop again around a mile at Kempton, Audarya was unhurried at the rear, had to maneuver for running room in the cavalry charge, and checked in eighth behind the top-class pair of Nazeef and Billesdon Brook. Audarya reverted to turf for the July 7 Pipalong at Pontefract, but never looked comfortable on the course and wound up sixth. Connections cited the ground – labeled good but riding loose on an inclement day – for her lack of traction.

Audarya then returned to 1 1/4 miles for a Newcastle handicap versus males, and despite lugging the second-highest weight of 140 pounds, she prevailed narrowly. A slower pace meant that she could sit a bit closer in fourth. When creeping through on the rail in the stretch, Audarya was immediately collared by a rival carrying 14 fewer pounds, but she pinned her ears and fought back.

Fanshawe appeared to be aiming a bit high when sending her to Deauville for the Prix Jean Romanet (G1), and the market ignored her as a 48-1 longshot. It would have been helpful to remember that Fanshawe won the 2014 Romanet with a similar class climber in Ribbons, and took the same prize with the more accomplished Speedy Boarding in 2016.

Audarya followed suit to stun the field, coping well with the soft going that undid floundering favorite Nazeef. Under a well-judged ride by Ioritz Mendizabal, Audarya pounced from just off the pace and held Group 2 winner Ambition by a cozy neck as they drew well clear of the rest.

The Prix de l’Opera (G1) on Arc Day was a deeper race, but Audarya backed up her Romanet performance by placing an honorable third to Tarnawa and high-class sophomore Alpine Star. Handling a heavy course, Audarya was perched just behind the leaders and advanced to contend in the stretch before going down by about a length, with familiar foe Ambition in fifth.

Audarya’s upwardly mobile profile makes her tough to discount. The question is how much her career-best form was influenced by the conditions she found in her native France, and how well that translates to likely less testing ground on a slight cutback in trip at Keeneland.